Brendan Rodgers shrugs off Liverpool sack speculation

LIVERPOOL -- Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insists he has no fears about being one of the favourites to lose his job.

Most leading UK betting websites have put Rodgers among the top three candidates to be the next Premier League manager sacked, along with Aston Villa's Paul Lambert and QPR's Harry Redknapp.

The Reds manager is under pressure after a poor first three months of the season, with Liverpool 12th in the table and needing a win over Basel on Dec. 9 to stay in the Champions League.

Rodgers has experienced the lows of management before, having been sacked by Championship club Reading in December 2009 after just six months in charge, before rebuilding his career at Swansea and moving on to Anfield in 2012.

He guided Liverpool to second place in the Premier League last season, and was voted manager of the year by the League Managers' Association, but has acknowledged that will not save him if results fail to improve.

Asked if he felt the views of the betting experts were a sign of the high expectations at Anfield, Rodgers said at a news conference: "No. They obviously expect me to lose my job. It's as simple as that. That's football.

"A few months ago, I was manager of year and now I'm favourite to get the sack. It's part and parcel of this wonderful life of working in football. It's short-termism.

"But all you can do is focus on the immediate job and what you can control. It's about working with the players, really consolidating, defining and providing even more clarity in their roles.

"We need qualities there have been in other performances in terms of the football. Now it's important that these mental characteristics come out, which I know they have."

Liverpool will seek to end a run of five matches without a win when they host Stoke City in the league on Saturday. Should they fail to do so it will be their worst-ever start to a Premier League campaign.

Wednesday's 2-2 Champions League draw in Bulgaria against Ludogorets did at least halt a sequence of four successive defeats, and Rodgers hopes it will kick-start their season.

He said: "I thought the performance level was very good. We're hoping that our season began the other night. But it will only count if we take that into tomorrow's game.

"Everything's been hunky-dory for about 18 months. But it's a different deck of cards we've been dealt this year. We need to focus on the now.

"I said to the players the other night: What happened before in the season has gone. We haven't been on a good run but let that be the making of us."

Liverpool will once again be without striker Mario Balotelli, who is recovering from the groin problem that forced him to pull out of the Italy squad during the last international break.